BCNM's Jill Miller Exhibiting at New Maternalisms

19 May, 2016

BCNM's Jill Miller Exhibiting at New Maternalisms

If you're in Edmonton, Canada, don't miss out on New Maternalisms: Redux, an exhibition featuring BCNM's very own Jill Miller, showing "24 Hour Family Portraits."

"24 Hour Family Portraits" is a series of humorous portraits based on the soundscape in the family home. Unlike a traditional portrait, this one is based on each family members' audio contributions, rather than visual characteristics. For one day, participants keep a log of the acoustic events in the family atmosphere: squeaks, yawps, bellows and bawls, and any significant auditory event in between. The artist creates a snapshot of the family informed by their phonic events in a 24 hour period. No photographs or other visual cues to determine the portrait, only the tallies of each person’s shouting contribution to the family soundscape. The artist consults the shouting log and assigns each family member a color. Each individual is represented as a series of spheres depicting that person’s audible outbursts. Louder and longer shouts result in large balls, while minor exclamations are represented by smaller balls. The orb clusters are playfully piled in front of a traditional portrait backdrop and then photographed. Historically, portrait painters were charged with conveying the very life-force of the sitter by means of a realistic depiction of the individual. Using sound as the foundation for these images, the work playfully uproots traditional portraiture’s focus on a subject’s visual form and reveals not just the emotional essence of each individual sitter but the collective dynamics of the entire family. The result is a humorous photograph that documents a family’s collective, 24-hour soundscape. This work is being made onsite at the New Maternalisms: Redux exhibition and colloquium, and will continue until 50 family portraits have been made.

At the May 12 opening reception, Jill joined artists Lenka Clayton, Jess Dobkin, Alejandra Herrera, and Courtney Kessel in live performance, showcasing her project beside the Dobkin Lactation Station Breast Milk Bar Tasting!

Curated by Natalie S. Loveless, the show runs from May 12 — June 4, 2016 at the FAB Gallery, 1-1 Fine Arts Building at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. From the New Maternalisms website:
New Maternalisms Redux is the third and last in the New Maternalisms exhibition series (following Toronto 2012 and Santiago 2014). It features five artists drawn from the first two exhibitions: Lenka Clayton, Jess Dobkin, Alejandra Herrera, Courtney Kessel, & Jill Miller. The work of these artists represents a spectrum of experience; it includes queer and straight identified mothers, single and partnered mothers, mothers of differently abled children, mothers of twins and singletons, and a represents range of race/class/economic privilege. This range of positionalities inflects the performance and project-based work presented here -- work that investigates the maternal iteratively, as a political and affective force. Considered individually and together, these works engage with one another and the public, drawing the community into important conversations around what it means to mother, as a non-reductive, thinking-feeling and political practice, today.

A three-day colloquium, Mapping the Maternal: Art, Ethics, and the Anthropocene, was being held in conjunction with the exhibition, with participants drawn from the most prominent voices on feminist art and the maternal today. The keynote presentation was delivered by internationally recognized feminist theorist and art historian, Dr. Griselda Pollock. This colloquium, open to the public, brought crucial thinking on the anthropocene and anthropogenic climate change together with thinking on the maternal as metaphor, practice, and politics.

Jill Miller is an art practitioner and professor who works collaboratively with communities and individuals. Her recent art work explores motherhood through a lens of feminism and performance, and her work takes shape across many forms and disciplines. Her community engagement project, The Milk Truck, reached tens of thousands of people around the world via social media and publications. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally, and collected in public institutions worldwide including CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo in Madrid and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Jill currently teaches at UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and the San Francisco Art Institute. She also received an Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation and runs the collaborative, socially-engaged project, Women of Wikipedia (WOW!) Editing Group that empowers high school-aged women to close the gender gap by researching and editing Wikipedia articles.